Mr. Speaker, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, in September of this year, Moody's reaffirmed Canada's AAA credit rating.
That is because we have a Prime Minister and the best Minister of Finance in the world who keep their hands on the tiller and make sure we have one of the greatest economies on this planet. That is no accident. It is because we have a government that looks to this, and we make sure that all Canadians benefit from it.
Moody's Investors Service's report stated that Canada's AAA credit rating:
....reflects a large, diversified economy as well as sound macroeconomic policy management.
Standard and Poors has also once again confirmed our government's AAA credit rating and highlighted in its report our stable and credible policy-making and a highly resilient economy even in the face of a fragile global economy, which yet remains. However, because of our Conservative government's, our Prime Minister's and our Minister of Finance's attention to this detail, Canada remains one of the strongest economies on the planet. Its report also touted high investor confidence and, in particular, our continued openness to trade as reliable indicators of Canada's future economic success. This endorsement follows our recently announced agreement in principle on a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union.
That trade agreement would make Canada one of only a few developed economies to have preferential access to two of the world's largest markets, the EU and the U.S., which together represent more than 800 million consumers and almost half of the global gross domestic product. I know my riding of Etobicoke Centre would benefit greatly from this trade deal because there are huge implications in it for Canada.
Our government's number one priority remains the economy, because that is the unwavering focus. More than one million more Canadians are working now than in July 2009, the best job creation record of the G7 industrialized countries.
It is my pleasure to speak to the second budget implementation bill. By implementing the measures in the economic action plan 2013, our government is helping to create jobs and opportunities for Canadians, and grow Canada's economy.
Measures in the economic action plan 2013 No. 2, aimed at spurring job creation and economic growth, include extending and expanding the hiring credit for small business, which would benefit an estimated 560,000 employers; increasing and indexing the lifetime capital gains exemption, to make investing in small business more rewarding; expanding the accelerated capital cost allowance to further encourage investments in clean energy generation; and freezing employment insurance premium rates for three years, leaving $660 million in the pockets of job creators and workers in 2014 alone.
The economic action plans will be introducing new administrative monetary penalties and criminal offences to deter the use, possession, sale and development of electronic suppression of sales software designed to falsify records for the purpose of tax evasion; closing tax loopholes relating to character conversion transactions, synthetic dispositions, leveraged life insurance arrangements and other schemes, to ensure that everyone pays their fair share; and extending, in certain circumstances, the period during which the Canada Revenue Agency can reassess a taxpayer who fails to report income from foreign property.
We do respect taxpayers' dollars. We modernized the Canada student loans program by moving to electronic service delivery, which meets our promise of eliminating red tape and unnecessary burdensome administration to get a lot of these things done. We are improving the efficiency of the temporary foreign worker program by also expanding electronic service delivery. For example, electronic signatures will suffice, whereas previously wet signatures were required, which increased the burden on people to actually get to the offices and do it. Now we have made it much easier to do all of these things online.
We are also phasing out the labour-sponsored venture capital corporations tax credit.
All these measures ensure that Canada is on the right track for economic prosperity. I think most of the world would agree with that.
I would like to further expand on a measure I just mentioned: freezing employment insurance premium rates for three years. Falling unemployment over the recovery means that the EI operating account is on track to return to balance, and the premium rate increases previously projected are simply no longer necessary.
Earlier this year, on September 9, our government announced it would freeze the employment insurance premium rate at the 2013 level of $1.88 per $100 of insurable earnings for 2014, and additionally that the rate would be set no higher than $1.88 for 2015 and 2016.
What does that mean? It means that by doing, this the government is promoting stability and predictability for employers and employees. Also, it is going to leave $660 million in the pockets of employers and workers in 2014. That means businesses and their employees, for example, in my riding of Etobicoke Centre, will keep more money in their pockets, which is great news for our local economy, especially for our small businesses, of which I have many in my riding. This measure also establishes that the premium rate for 2017 and onwards would be set according to the seven year break-even rate setting mechanism. This will ensure that EI premiums are no higher than they need to be to pay for the EI program over a seven year period.
Another measure that will help businesses in my riding is the hiring credit for small business. Small business is the engine of job creation in Canada and in recognition of the challenges faced by small businesses across the country, budget 2011 announced a temporary hiring credit for small business up to $1,000 per employer. That is significant. The credit provided needed relief to small businesses by helping defray the costs of hiring new workers and allowing them to take advantage of emerging economic activities. Indeed, the hiring credit was so successful that it was extended in 2012.
While the Canadian economy is improving, the global economy remains fragile. In order to support job creation, clause 135 would amend part IV of the Employment Insurance Act to extend and expand the hiring credit for small business in 2013. By doing this, an employer whose premiums were $15,000, increased from $10,000 used in the 2011 and 2012 hiring credit for small business, or less in 2012, would be refunded the increase in their 2013 premiums over those paid in 2012, to a maximum of $1,000. This, again, would put more money into the pockets of small businesses.
It is estimated that 560,000 small businesses will benefit from this measure, saving them $225 million in 2013. That is significant. This means that businesses and their employees, in my riding of Etobicoke Centre in particular, will be keeping more of that money. That is great news for our local economy, especially those small businesses all across Canada that will benefit from this.
Economic action plan 2013 also confirms our government's intention to create a new and innovative expression of interest immigration management system that would allow employers, provinces and territories to select skilled immigrants from a pool of applicants that best meet Canada's economic need. The expression of interest model is a new electronic, fully automated, application management system for economic immigration to Canada that would establish a two step immigrant application process, introducing the concept of the stand-alone expression of interest pre-application stage followed by an application by invitation only to the best candidates only. Candidates would complete an online form to express their interest in coming to Canada and provide information about their skills and experience, which would determine their eligibility for entry into the EOI pool. Pool submissions can be ranked, sorted, searched and top candidates would be invited to submit an application for permanent residence, which could be processed in an expedited manner.
A new expression of interest division would be added to IRPA that would allow for a stand-alone pre-application stage as a first step to immigrating to Canada under certain economic programs. In addition, the division would include broad provisions outlining the process of EOI, the required information sharing measures, as well as measures enabling a role for third parties, provinces and territories, as well as employers, under this new system. This would allow Canada to bring the best and brightest to our country, not only because we need to have sustained immigration, but also we need people who will come to our country, work closely with us, contribute to the tax base right away and make contributions to Canada within a short time of arriving.
In the past, the economic action plan has greatly benefited seniors. My riding has the eighth highest demographic of seniors in the country. These people have contributed so much to building our country and have in fact laid the foundations that all of us walk on. That is why we have done more for seniors than any other government. Budget 2011 enhanced the guaranteed income supplement, investing more than $300 million per year to improve the financial security and well-being of more than 680,000 seniors across Canada. Budget 2011 increased the budget of the new horizons for seniors program from $40 million to $45 million annually.
There are so many good things to talk about in this budget, but I will summarize by simply saying that clearly our government is on the right track. We have a Prime Minister and the best Minister of Finance in the world who have managed it deftly. They have been praised by all of their peers around the planet. We have one of the greatest economies in the G7 and we will continue to do that.